Chris and Sam Saturday 24 June 2023
What do Irish dancing, a pair of alpacas and Marks & Spencer all have in common?
C&S tied the knot on Saturday 24 June 2023 with a ceremony in the chapel followed by a reception in the Radcliffe Room. Think: pick n mix, BBQs, alpacas, magicians, bubble machines, Irish dancing, Saxophonists and a M&S lovers dream - yes, we know what you're thinking and we feel the same! We NEEDED an invite to this!
For many reasons, Christopher and Sam's wedding day was unforgettable and we are sure like us, you'll be feeling very inspired!
Read on to find out how they fell in love, chose their suppliers and how Percy & Colin had a HUGE part to play in this love story...
So, how did you two meet?
Sam and I first met in 2013 when he came for an interview to be a manager in Marks and Spencer. Several months later after getting the job, Sam then started working for me in Skipton. We both knew there was something special between us from the very start and a few months later our relationship began to blossom. Covid did a great job in keeping people apart, but for Sam and I it brought us closer together and made us realise that we wanted to buy our first house together. So in April 2021, we bought our first home together in north Leeds. Our wedding day was exactly 10 years to the date when we officially started working together which is why the 24th June is so special to us.
When did you know they were 'the one'/how did they pop the question?
The short answer is, we always knew we were meant to be together. The Gods of M&S put Sam and I together for a reason and it wasn't until further down the line that we realised this was fate. We love hosting parties for friends and family, so on our annual New Year's Eve Party in 2021, I got down on one knee at midnight and proposed to Sam. Only my best friend and future best man Callum, knew what I was going to do in front of all of our friends as Jools Holland was leading Auld Lang Syne for the nation. I did the traditional thing and asked Sam's mum the week before just to make sure she felt I was "fit and proper" to take her son's hand in marriage.
What was the biggest MUST HAVE for your wedding?
Our absolute, no debate whatsoever must have for our wedding, was for all of our guests to have the best day they could possibly have and walk away from it with huge beaming smiles on their faces. We also wanted to include things that were close to our hearts, such as having the wedding celebrated by a man of God in the Chapel along with Irish dancing as part of our first dance given Christopher's Irish heritage. Every time we sat down to plan the big day, we always talked about how much more we can add to the event to make it recognisable as a "Dunham-Haigh" celebration, which is why we couldn't not have a Pick 'n' Mix sweet stall and alpacas mingling with our guests. .
Other than saying 'I do', what is the most unforgettable moment from the day?
It's really tough to just pick one unforgettable moment because there genuinely are so many that you don't want to ever forget. But that being said, the real stand out occasions for both us was the first times we both walked into the chapel with our mums walking us down the aisle and seeing all of our friends and family stood in the pews. Also when we both entered the Radcliffe room for our wedding breakfast and everyone was on their feet; waving napkins and clapping as our master of ceremonies Rob, announced us as Mr & Mr Dunham-Haigh to the room for the very first time. Another unforgettable moment for us was our first dance! Even though we were both terrified and not very good at Irish dancing, joining the dancers as part of their second routine was a sight to behold and the atmosphere created in the room by our guests was unbelievable. On a more sentimental note, Sam and I both loved the more intimate and quiet time we got together, such as the photos of just us in the grounds of Rudding Park and the night before the big day when we hosted a BBQ for our immediate families and wedding party in the Rudding Park herb garden. We had been officially married by the Harrogate registrar just before the BBQ and then went to have pictures taken on the love island in the middle of the lake which was so beautiful and unforgettable. We would always recommend to everyone who is planning a wedding, make sure you get some time plotted in for the two of you, as you will definitely need it as the day goes by in the blink of an eye.
Which supplier was a real stand out for you? The unsung star who deserves a special mention.
Everyone who contributed to our wedding was fabulous! Nobody let the side down and every single supplier, entertainer and contributor made such a great impact on our wedding which means our memories of the day are perfect! The alpacas from Beacon Alpacas really did steal the show for our guests though. Didier and Cozmo were so friendly and interactive with all of our guests, so much so we included them in our wedding group photograph at the front of Rudding House. We would also like to give special mentions to both Nikki our photographer who did a mammoth day photographing all the special moments and then running the photo booth in the evening. Also our celebrant Rev Gordon Hay, who created such a special service and before the big day spent so much time getting to know us.
What was it in your eyes that gives Rudding Park the WOW factor?
Everything from the service of the team, the grounds, the quality of the food, but most of all the stunning chapel! Nothing was ever too much trouble for Rudding Park and they responded so positively to all of our requests no matter how obscure they might have been. Emily as our co-ordinator before the big day was so attentive and we always felt so comfortable knowing Emily was organising everything. On the big day, both Amy and Dan were brilliant at making sure everything went smoothly and our guests were well looked after.
We knew from our very first wedding showing that Rudding Park was the venue for us. It had already been a big part of Christopher's life before the big day with many occasions celebrated at Rudding Park without any issues and only great memories so it was always written in the stars that here would be where we celebrate the best day of our lives.
How did you style your space? Did your wedding day have a theme?
We started off by deciding what we wanted our wedding invitations to look like and then used this as our base for a theme of the wedding. We wanted the wedding to be greens and white overall, so fairly simple but also quite elegant. We used white blossom trees to bring colour to the chapel and also as the main part of our table centrepieces. We worked with our florist Colette, to bring this all together and create a theme for each room and area for the wedding day including decorating the main staircase in Ivy and white flowers. The first time we walked into the chapel and the wedding breakfast, the trees, flowers, lanterns and candles really made the rooms feel so special and welcoming. We also had a design done with our new surname incorporated into it which we used on all the stationary. All of the sweet bags, cookies, milk bottles etc all had our "Dunham-Haigh" logo on it which made everything feel personal and also as an additional memory for our guests to take away with them. Our table names were all hanging form each table centrepiece tree and are named after some of the M&S stores we had worked in between us, with Skipton being the top table as this was the store where we "officially" worked together.
What is your funniest memory from the day?
There were plenty of laugh out loud moments throughout the day with my cousins attempt at handstands and cartwheels on the terrace a real highlight, even though he might not think that! Our Irish dancing skills left a lot to be desired, even though we had lessons, on the night it all just seemed to escape us both. The cutting of the cake was a moment of madness if Sam and I are really honest. We didn't think about what to do at the time and it ended up us both trying to cut the cake but in different places and ended up butchering it! We also didn't think about Nikki trying to take photograph's of us while cutting the cake so we didn't look up at any point and then when doing the typical wedding cake cutting moment of feeding each other cake, it just didn't work. We really should have rehearsed the cake cutting.
What's the best advice you could give to couples who are about to tie the knot at Rudding Park?
Enjoy every minute of it! Even now several months later, we look back on the thing and love everything about it. Spending time at Rudding Park every month between meals, spa, hotel, golf, cinema and meeting Emily our planner, absolutely made the journey feel so special and enjoyable!
We planned everything to the tiniest detail to make sure nothing was left to chance and nothing went wrong which really helped with any stress levels. So much so, the week leading up to the wedding was a dream and everything felt in such control that we could relax and enjoy going out for lunch and dinner without having to worry. We set up a document that Sam and I both had access to online, that we kept adding information to throughout the planning process and made sure we did everything in advance. We used a wedding website (hitched.com) to collect guests responses but that's all it was needed for. We sent out an e-mail to every guest four weeks before the big day detailing all the arrangements and timeline of the day which was really helpful. On there we put contact details for Rudding Park on the day and also asked guests to contact a designated point of contact rather than Sam and I so we could just worry about ourselves on the day.
And finally, we'd love to hear about your experience with Rudding Park....
Rudding Park is amazing! We genuinely could not have wished for a better venue in any way, it was sensational! Nothing was too much trouble and the whole process from planning to execution was exceptional. We always felt that Emily and the team had everything in control and were so well organised. Even the menu tasting that we did six months before was a great night with family able to join us too. We built a fantastic rapport with Rudding over the eighteen months and we really felt embraced as part of Rudding Park. So much so, we have booked Rudding Park again for next June to celebrate our 1st and Christopher's Mum and Dad's 40th Wedding anniversary there on the Jupiter terrace. The whole set up of Rudding Park was perfect for us. We hired several lodges for our families who came from far and wide to spend a few days in Harrogate which worked so well, especially as the team were always on hand to drive us around the grounds.
As there were so many staying in the hotel and in the lodges, Rudding put the final icing on the cake by giving us our own private breakfast space on the morning after the wedding which was a lovely way to end our wedding weekend. We would recommend Rudding Park to everyone, and actually have. many many times over the last few months. We used many of the facilities over the weeks and months leading up to the wedding such as the private cinema and rooftop spa and we really couldn't fault anything, it was just as magical as every every couple hopes their own wedding experience would be.
Supplier Dream Team:
Photographer and Video: Nikki Ramsay
Florist: Flowers by Colette
DJ: Audio Events
Band: The Crazy Knights
Alpacas: Beacon Alpacas
Choir: Lucy's Pop Choir
Magician: Tim Lichfield
Violinist: Nadia Violin
Styling: Flowers by Colette and Scottish Everlastings
Bubble Machine: beamZ
Chairs: Chair and Table Hire Yorkshire
Signage and Stationery: Tavern Creative
Cake: The Bakery Barn
Celebrant/Minister: Rev Gordon Hay
Charcuterie, Milk and Cookies: Marks and Spencer
Guest Favours: Molton Brown, Monty Bojangles and The Lasered with Love Co
Gifts: Virgin Experiences and AU Vodka
Pick 'n' Mix: Wholesale Sweets UK
Wedding Suits: Suit Culture
Rings: Bradley's Jewellers, Harrogate
Irish Dancers: LUU Irish Dancing
Hairdresser/Make-up: Cutting Room Creative/Rudding Park